Inflation driving up food assistance need, impacting local organizations

SOUTH BEND, Ind., --- Amid record high inflation rates, local food banks and charities are seeing a higher need this holiday season and the increased costs are also making it harder for them to get those essential items for folks in the community.

“It's something I don’t have to go out of my way to pay for, turkeys are so high,” said Antonio Patterson.

Patterson is one of hundreds of community members who received a free turkey Monday from the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

He said without the distribution, he wouldn’t have been able to afford a turkey this Thanksgiving.

“The cost of what it's costing in grocery stores is very high. I heard about this, so I came out and I’ve been out here since 10:30 but it's worth it,” said Patterson.

Several organizations who held Thanksgiving meal distributions said rising prices of everyday expenses are driving the need for assistance up across the board.

“People’s needs are higher this year than they were last year. They were seniors, they were of middle age, they were people of color, they were people of non-color. There was everybody. Everybody is affected by the economy,” said Reverend Sylvester Williams Jr. who organized WUBS Radio Station’s Thanksgiving Food Giveaway on Monday.

“It costs a lot more to live every month and people who are struggling they usually give up food first so that they can pay those other necessities,” added Marijo Martinec, the Executive Director & CEO of the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.

Martinec told ABC57 inflation has not only increased the number of families they’ve served last year to this year by nearly 40%, but it’s also impacted their operations and other organizations in the area.

“There are not as many distributions this year because the cost of turkey has gone up about 73%. We’ve seen a decrease in donations, food donations over this past year. So, we’re purchasing more food,” she explained. “Fuel costs have gone up, the cost to purchase food has gone up, so it’s just been a really challenging year.”

Amid those challenges, Martinec said they’ve had to lean on the community to meet the demand and continue providing free meals to families in need, especially for the holidays.

“Every time we put a call out that we need help, I mean we live in a very generous community and people respond,” said Martinec. “Thanksgiving in particular is about food and gathering with people that you love. “So, we want everybody to feel like everybody else on Thanksgiving.”

“Very grateful very grateful…getting a turkey to hopefully have me a nice thanksgiving meal,” added Patterson.

Monday’s distributions across St. Joseph County alone served more than 1,000 local families ahead of Thanksgiving.

If you need a little help or want to donate this holiday season there are still distributions happening this week.

More information about them can be found here.

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